One of the most shocking cases we’ve heard in some time came to a close for all intents and purposes today when Ariel Castro accepted a plea deal which consists of life in prison without possibility of parole plus 1000 years.
There is still the formal sentencing to take place Thursday (CBS News) but the assumption seems to be that the judge will accept the Prosecutor’s recommendation since it will keep the victims from having to testify in court. He would have been eligible for the death penalty had he gone to trial, but it’s clear he will never be free to hurt anyone again and this does spare the victims what would have been another traumatic experience.
There is a report that one of the women might appear in person and the other two on video at the sentencing hearing but that won’t be anything like the trauma of going through a trial. He’s also agreed to work with the FBI on his crimes and that could provide knowledge that will help FBI profilers track other twisted men and the women they’re holding.
So it seems rather an anticlimactic end to a story that set the country on its ear just a few months ago and it will soon fade into people’s memory. But there is more of this story to remember and talk about and a good reason we shouldn’t let it fade into memory.
The thing that has had my mind reeling since this story first broke is people claiming he was a nice guy and there was no way we could have known. I beg to differ. According to Daily News, as well as other sources, he had horrifically abused his common law wife and mother of his children and had menaced neighbors as far back at 1989.
Castro was arrested for abduction and child endangerment after he drove around town with a child on the bus, according to a police report.
The report says Castro told the boy, “Lay down b—-,” then went inside a fast-food restaurant and ate lunch, leaving the child alone on the bus. Afterward, he drove around for a while and parked the vehicle at a bus parking lot. It wasn’t until about 2 p.m. that he returned the child to his home, the report said.
The child was examined at MetroHealth Hospital and released. (Daily News)
There are numerous accounts of him abusing or attempting to abuse others that weren’t taken seriously and I have to wonder why. He also has a daughter so severely mentally ill she’s serving 25 years in prison for trying to murder her child and at least one of his other children said she was afraid of him. What’s that about, and has anybody investigated to see if her issues are related to his behavior?
In spite of all of these issues with violence against women, as well as others, he was allowed to drive a school bus. What kind of background checks do they do for school bus drivers? I think it would be reasonable to assume these three young girls/women would think because he had been a school bus driver he was safe to accept a ride from…and that’s how he abducted every one of them…by offering them a ride.
One of the neighbors said he was such a nice guy they never suspected even though his common law wife had been to their house to call the police for protection when he brutalized her. What is wrong with people? When a man is capable of beating the woman he claims to love, don’t they understand that means he’s deeply twisted and he’s capable of anything? In the Horror House documentary I watched, one of them smiled when talking about him being “flirty” with the girls on the bus. Doesn’t it raise a red flag when a school bus driver is “flirty” with young girls on the bus?
The police had been called to his house more than once but didn’t find anything suspicious. Really? They don’t find it suspicious when a man has reinforced windows on his 2nd floor? That’s not typically where people break in. I might give them pass on the boarded up windows because it was a poor neighborhood and people might not be able to replace glass right away but reinforced windows on the 2nd floor? Chains in the yard? There was enough stuff in his yard and garage to raise suspicion without the multiple other incidents.
I say we had plenty of warning, but we just weren’t listening. That begs the question of why weren’t we listening? Was it because it was a poor, neighborhood primarily of minorities? Or was it because there is still a level of winking at nodding at men abusing women in this country? Or was it a combination of both? I say it’s both. There was at least one report of a neighbor woman who claimed to call the police because she saw a naked woman crawling in his backyard, but maybe wasn’t believed because there doesn’t seem to be an official report on it.
When will we as a whole stop winking and nodding at men abusing women because they’re married to or living with them? She evidently suffered broken bones and even a brain injury. He should have been in prison already for the abuse he inflicted on his common law wife and the state does have the authority to prosecute those cases regardless if the victim presses charges or not. It seems that we still have an idea in this country that a man can do what he wants to a woman if people think she “belongs to him”–as in living with him or married to him.
These women suffered unimaginable torture for ten years. They were chained like animals to a pole so he could punish them by starving them. They were kept in cells with slots for food while he repeatedly raped and beat them until they were afraid to go through a door even if it was left unlocked. And yet so many people said they didn’t believe they couldn’t get away in ten years as soon as they heard the story.
It happened because we failed them…as a society we failed them. Michelle Knight had already been gang-raped as a teenager and had a child. When some man in her life abused her son, instead of helping her get to safety with her child her child was taken from her. Nobody even looked for her because they said she had “mental issues” so they assumed she ran away because they took her son from her. And she knew. He let them watch TV so they could see people looking for them all around where they were being held…and Michelle Knight saw nobody cared enough to look for her. Why wouldn’t she have “mental issues” is my question and why did nobody offer her help before the 2nd maniac got his hands on her? And once her perfected his method by brutalizing Michelle for over a year he took a 2nd and a 3rd woman.
It was a horror that will keep happening until we start taking the abuse of women seriously the first time it happens. Sexual slavery is still a very real problem in this country that we like to keep hidden because we don’t want to think about it. Until we all understand deep in our soul that there is no excuse for a man abusing a woman no matter what his relationship to her is these twisted animals will continue to escape our attention until they do something so horrific we can never and should never forget.
Below is the House of Horror documentary.
Cleveland Kidnapping Update: Victim could face Ariel Castro in court, source tells CBS – Crimesider – CBS News. (n.d.). Breaking News Headlines: Business, Entertainment & World News – CBS News. Retrieved July 27, 2013, from http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57595767-504083/cleveland-kidnapping-update-victim-could-face-ariel-castro-in-court-source-tells-cbs/
Cleveland suspect Ariel Castro faced prior abuse complaints from common-law wife – NY Daily News. (n.d.). Daily News America – Breaking national news, video, and photos – Homepage – NY Daily News. Retrieved July 27, 2013, from http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/cleveland-suspect-faced-prior-abuse-complaints-article-1.1343250
email, M. Q. (n.d.). Ariel Castro’s daughter: ‘It’s all adding up’ – 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports. 19 Action News — News, Weather, Sports for Northeast Ohio – 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports. Retrieved July 27, 2013, from http://www.19actionnews.com/story/22216622/ariel-castros-daughter-its-all-adding-up
lineUSA. (n.d.). Ariel Castro victims relieved by guilty plea. USA TODAY: Latest World and US News – USATODAY.com. Retrieved July 27, 2013, from http://www.usatoday.com/story